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Happy Holidays for Pets

Thanksgiving is just around the corner with all the wonderful food and the fun of family gatherings.  There is bound to be an excess of energy and excitement in the household when others visit during the holidays.  This brings to mind a number of safety issues involving our animals.  If we’re not aware, the cooler weather and holiday celebrations can negatively impact our household pets.

Make arrangements for pets long before guests arrive for parties or dinners.  Sometimes your cat or dog will be more comfortable and safe in a spare room or kennel with food, water, a few toys, and their bed.  Some guests may not appreciate your pets or have allergies to pet hair and dander.  Many pets also escape out the front door when guests are arriving.  Keeping them safely tucked away can help prevent a lost cat or dog. Just to be safe, have the pets’ collars with current ID tags on them.

The precautions you take can also help prevent a potential bite from an agitated pet.  Many dogs or cats do not appreciate a child’s hug; the animals perceive this behavior as aggression and may react negatively.   There tend to be more bites from pets during the holiday season, mainly because children try to get too close to a dog.  Pets that are not accustomed to youngster’s rough handling or hugs should be watched very carefully.  If an animal has not been socialized with children, or has had a bad experience with them, keep him separate from children.

Since many holiday foods and alcohol are too rich, even lethal, to pets, remind all guests that your pets do not get “people food” or alcoholic beverages.   Some people think it is funny to get a dog or cat intoxicated—this can be very dangerous to a pet’s health.  The sweet, starchy, and fat-filled holiday recipes do not digest well and some may even be poisonous.  Many a small dog has had to have an emergency veterinary visit after ingesting chocolate, gravy or other people foods.

As stated in the “Animal Health 101” article provided by Pet Meds, “Dogs and cats cannot-as humans can-digest a large number of calories at one setting without becoming ill. Often because we reward ourselves with food, we think of food as a reward for pets.”  They suggest rewarding with something other than food—probably a good idea for us humans, too!
Store all leftovers safely away and make sure that the turkey carcass is discarded in a tightly sealed trash container.  When ingested, the bones can splinter and cause internal punctures.  Nothing will ruin a nice holiday more than an unexpected trip for emergency medical care.  The holiday food trash can also be a potential hazard to other neighborhood dogs, as well as attract unwanted scavengers, such as the coyotes, to your yard.

The holiday décor you choose may also possibly be dangerous.  Ask yourself, “Would this decoration be safe with small children?”  If the answer is “No”, you probably should not use it.  Think of your younger pets as you would toddlers—always curious and investigative when new things are placed in your living area.

Finally, please do not leave a pet confined to the back yard or garage when you’re busy with holiday preparations.   It can be a cold and lonely place for a pet.  They need your attention just as much as any other time of year.  Don’t forget them.

When we give thanks for the many blessings we have, be thankful for the unconditional love and affection these animal companions bring to our lives.

By Jenny Anderson

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